Thursday, 2 September 2010

Anything to report?

Every day around noon I walk down to Joe and Linda's shop for the bread and every day when I get back Carol asks "Anything to report from downtown?" And every day I answer "No."

But today I answered "No. ... Er, well, actually, YES."

The reason was today, 1st September 2010, was the first day of the new bus service on Flores and I walked past the new bus in the village square - at the bus-stop, in fact - on the way down to get the bread.

It was very big and new and shiny and had a driver with a uniform (well a shirt, tie and name badge anyway, if not a cap) and an illuminated digital sign thing in the window saying "04 FAJÃZINHA".

I shouldn't be at all surprised if, inside, there weren't a synthetic voice saying "The next stop is [then different voice said in tone like recording your name for a voice mail message] Fajãzinha [back to original voice] please remember to collect your personal belongings ...". (In Portuguese, of course.)

Unfortunately, there were no passengers on the bus but to make up for that there was a laminated timetable pinned up in the bus shelter. That would have ensured that, had there been any passengers, at least there wouldn't have been a disappointment if anyone was wanting the "05 LAJES".

Of course I didn't have my camera with me so the following is a pic from the Governo dos Açores website of the new fleet of buses at Sta Cruz:-

I went down later to at least get a pic of the timetable pinned up in the bus shelter but on the way down I was halloo-ed by Marianna down the road to tell me our bucket (balde) had been blown down the street the other night in the storm and was outside Pierluigi's house. So I picked that up and when I got to the bus shelter José Agusto's father was sitting there, as is his wont (and his right), and I would have felt a right plank photographing a timetable holding a balde. So I didn't.

To explain, there have been buses on Flores before today but they're geared round the school run and have generally been a bit, well, crap. There was a story recently that all the drivers were off sick and the kids couldn't get get to school. I'm sure something got lost in translation on that one but if you couple it with the fact that the nearest they got to publishing a timetable was a handwritten scrawl in the shop window "because some German tourist asked" then you can see how name badges and laminated timetables is a great leap forward.

We don't yet run to the timetable on a website or a reply to an e-mail requesting a copy but it's early doors yet. Carol said "Let's go to Lajes on the bus because we can". Sounds like a plan except I hope it doesn't turn out to be like the disappointment when we decided to go to Corvo because we - supposedly - could. 


Luís Henriques said...

Travelling by bus in Flores is (or was?) quite an adventure. I'm 28 years old and, since I can remember it was always like that. This new system of public transportation, I hope, will change, at least, a bit of that. I've travelled today from Fajãzinha to Santa Cruz and it took me an hour and a half (by Lajes), because its still a "no-students season".
I hope that in a couple of months that will change for better.

Best wishes,

Marisa said...

I remember that we had to catch a small bus that could enter the old bridge of Ribeira Grande, with the big ones was something freaky, the wheels almost didn't fit,and if you'd look down from the window you could only see the "ribeira".
They use to smell too, gas or oil, I had to travel with plastic bags if you know what I mean. But most of the times we traveled with Linda's father, Sr. Fraga, our neighbor and Albino who use to pick us up at Santa Cruz port.
Those new ones look nice.

Ricardo Scotti said...

But can you get a concessionary pass for old people like yourself?

Kathie said...

While on Flores for several days in summer 2002, I never took the bus. However, one Thursday in Santa Cruz I repeatedly ran into a young couple I'd met on my flight in, who along with the wife's parents (visiting all summer) were staying with relatives in Fajã Grande. The young couple and her parents were in Santa Cruz for the day running assorted errands (e.g., bank, post office) because, they explained, Thursday was the only day of the week that the FG-SC bus ran -- left FG in the AM, returned in late afternoon. (Does anyone know whether this was the case then?)

Kathie said...

Luís Henriques, is Henriques your surname? My paternal grandfather's family name was Henriques, and they were from Fajãzinha/Fajã Grande, prompting me to wonder if we might be related. Are there many Henriques families in the area, or are they all the same family?